Sunday, June 27, 2010

too much?

I was chatting with some IRL infertile friends last night about the difficulties of dealing with fertile friends/relatives who - we'll use my interpretation of facts, which I'm convinced is the objective one - don't give a damn about the lives of their infertiles friends, siblings, whatever, enough even to try to be sensitive. I may whine about people who say dumb things, but there is a difference between stepping in it because you're trying too hard, and standing in it because you're not trying at all.

One of my friends was trying to make the point that these are good people, and can't be faulted for never (my words again) taking ten seconds to think about how their comments might affect others, or what topics would be ideal to talk about around people. I take the point of view that these people may be good in the main - better than I am, without doubt - but that being inconsiderate when you know or should know better is a moral failing, and that that is therefore a bad character trait that detracts from their otherwise consistent goodness. Specifically: if your beloved sister is infertile, and you see her regularly, and never ever ask how she's doing (and you have a lot of kids and she listened when you talked about your struggle with your miscarriage), then as far as that behavior goes (maybe not the rest of your relationship), you're a bad sister. Likewise, if you know a friend - even a distant friend - is infertile, and you choose to discuss your most recent labor in front of her for thirty minutes, you're just a rotten human being.

I know this is true, because, cold-hearted though I may be, I am very conscious about discussing my marriage in front of single friends. Many of them know my DH, so maybe I can tell a story about him they'll enjoy; but I watch them, I see their eyes, and sometimes their eyes are distant, or they're pained. When I see that, I change the subject instantly. I'm not being dramatic or self-aggrandizing. That's what I actually do. And that's me - the infertile b*&$#. If I can do it, the doe-eyed daily communicants in long skirts can pull it off easy.

I shared my perspective on the subject, during that conversation, in perhaps too-severe terms. It was late. But I was telling the truth. The truth is this: before I was married, others' pregnancies were a source of joy. In the first 2-3 years of ttc, others' pregnancies had become a cross - immediately, in fact. But infertiles' pregnancies were still a source of inspiration and hope. I am rapidly nearing five years. It has been well over a year since infertiles' pregnancies were, as a rule, a source of joy for me. I can be happy about any individual pregnancy. There have always been people (particularly among the bloggers) with whose sufferings I identified to the degree that I would literally have wanted them to be pregnant before me. (In most of those cases, that has already happened. Good for them.) Not to say that the rest were less deserving, but there's a certain resonance with some. I can't say why. Some have managed to dissipate entirely my feeling of that resonance shortly after they became pregnant, or by the time they delivered; but such is life.

You see, now, when infertiles get pregnant, I have been left behind twice: once by the fertile world, and a second time by the infertile world. One had only to look at my blogroll (as of yesterday) to see how clearly this is true. I changed it today, after my husband pointed out that it is evident to him that keeping up with blogging is making me really unhappy of late - and that I bring this unhappiness into my life, and our marriage, in many cases for the sake of people I don't even know.

Obviously, the connection that the IF blogosphere shares is hard to convey to people who haven't experienced it. (And I do know several of the blogger gals IRL now!) But he has a point. Some people have said things about their recent pregnancies/motherhood that I found objectively, straight-up offensive (because insensitive) - and things I am 100% positive they would never have said the day before their BFP or adoption came through. That's been a cross, reading those things, and figuring out how to deal with them. But even with those who haven't, the veritable rash of pregnancies happening all at once has been really hard for me to take.

I know - of course - that IF blogs are largely ttc blogs (a blog identity crisis I have worked with but not fully addressed for my own blog), and obviously the goal is that people will succeed. I hope that for the IF bloggers generally, though that doesn't make my reaction to happy announcements unmixed (a subject discussed nearly to death in the blogosphere, and very intelligently, too). But so many at once was more than just several repeats of that same experience. Rather, the mass crossing-over that happened of late meant that my blogroll of IF friends who understood where I was, and vice versa, has turned into a blogroll of pregnancy development announcements to follow. That's hard - and lacking support and camraderie is far harder. Wishing other people's suffering to be prolonged is uncharitable, and that's not really what I want - but I don't know that it's uncharitable, per se, to want not to be abandoned.

Nevertheless, I have an obligation to face reality. I moved the pregnant gals (probably have a few to go) to my "with babies" blogroll and now I have a nice digital line between blogs that will build me up in this journey and those that will be emotionally draining (and if you think that's harsh, you should have heard the phrasing I used last night).

One of the less-shocking things I said is that I wish all the people with kids (not infertiles, everybody) could be put on a separate island away from me. I don't begrudge them their happiness; I just want nothing to do with it. It's an affirmative affliction for me, and I know that not one person (other than my husband and me) has lost sixty seconds' sleep total over my childlessness. Their joy in their families has not been reduced one iota by my suffering. So why should my suffering be multiplied to form a cheering section for the blessings they already know are blessings? For people who don't recognize blessings, who see them as curses, who suffer with them, I have resources of compassion. I can understand suffering that's of a different character from mine. But for those who want to flaunt their riches - go to Hell. I don't need to see that here in my world. I have no patience for it left at all.

And it's funny to me, because I would sooner gouge out an eye than exult about a raise to a friend who has lost a job. I'm cold and heartless and selfish, and I couldn't do that. I'm not capable of it. If I said something about it being nice to have a promotion or a bonus and found out that a friend listening had just lost a job, I wouldn't be able to apologize fast enough. I would nurse the guilt for days and every time I saw the person thereafter. It would rob all the pleasure from my bonus, that it had been the source of pain to someone else. I'd be too ashamed to talk to the person without him approaching me first. And that's me. Why can't all the beautiful and holy people feel a tiny trifle of that compunction at using their unearned gifts as a scourge? What would possess a person to wax eloquent about the joys of parenthood to an infertile woman? I don't think an intoxicant is made that can excuse that kind of obtuseness. I remain convinced that a special place in Hell exists for those who engage in such behavior.

Yes, I'm still angry. I think I have a very extensive reason to be. Part of that is because I have not faithfully excised from my life that which is an optional cross. I have a good poker face, and I can deal with any given trial of this kind; and I refuse ever to show weakness to the heartless; but in the aggregate, this barrage is more than I can take and maintain my peace of mind. I doubt it helps that CD1 is approaching...but this isn't hormones. This is hell - just like Sartre said...


  1. ugg self-absorption (and very bad spelling)

  2. Just wanted to congratulate you for getting the SA done and having your big talk. I want to go to that French resaurant. You made it sound so good.
    You're right about this, too, of course. I must plead guilty to selbst absorbtion, and I have no doubt hurt friends deeply without meaning too. (I have friends that have been together almost 15 years and don't have children. I didn't even occur to me that that may not have been a choice until I was in the situation myself.) mea culpa
    x h

  3. What an honest post. I know you are right, and feel conviction. I think it is like dressing modestly. Dressing with too much skin showing is not sin in and of itself, however, if you know you will cause a brother to fall or suffer because of it you have sinned. By speaking of marriage or fertility to those who have not yet attained it is much the same, causing harm to those sisters who we should be building up.

  4. Yes, this is hell.
    I've always been a self-aware person - someone who is aware of how their own actions affect other people, even before this infertility curse, and I have a hard time understanding people who aren't. There are so many of those people out there, and I really do believe they live in their own little bubble.
    As far as other people's pregnancies - I don't think (other than my sister's and my cousin's - so basically just family) any pregnancy can bring me joy, infertile crossing over or not. I can be happy for an IF'er's success, but it doesn't bring joy to ME. My joy will come with my own pregnancy or adoption. Sad, but true.

  5. FWIW- I don't think you are as cold and heartless as you like to think you are. I think you are guarded, and with good reason. I think you have built a wall around your heart to protect it from the hurt.

    I'm sorry the world is so hard on you right now. I pray everyday for your happiness, and that you will find a place of calm peace.

  6. This is a very honest post. Sending prayers your way tonight.

  7. Thank you for such honesty. I agree with Call Me Mama that although I can be happy for other's pregnancies, it doesn't bring me joy like my own pregnancy or adoption would. I try to be considerate of single women in discussing marriage and fertility, although I'm not always successful. I'm praying for you.

  8. I don't think you are cold hearted at all. It seems to me you are a very sensitive person and IF as well as other unfulfilled dreams have been doing their darnedest to knock the stuffing out of you. When others appear to exult in their dreams fulfilled - well, it's not that you'd wish them to be unhappy, but it surely isn't helping your own sanity, mental health, joy etc. I also have felt betrayed when someone who should "know better" has said or done something insensitive and hurtful. (especially if they are close).

    You'll want to edit/delete this part - you will need to move me down to the bottom column, as dh and I did come through IF to the other side a few years ago. I generally write about things other than parenting since I spend more of my blog time more in the childfree/IF kind of space - both because of my own experience there, and to help understand DSIL and her DH who have decided to live CF after IF (and the tx they were comfortable with didn't work for them; adoption is not a good option for them either). Then I felt I got to know some bloggers and want to keep some connection, I suppose. And also to learn about acceptance - just blogged about that tonight in fact (my posting has been glacial lately, so that is a big accomplishment for me). Anyway, I wouldn't want someone clicking over to me feeling they are completely safe (ie. CF blog) and to run across a reference or a post that would bring up the desolation again.

    I am glad you and your dh are finding a way to hold onto each other through this desert, and hoping and praying you find the path to an easier, more freeing and more joyful place soon.


  9. I love this post. It is honest, and I can respect that so much more than any blathering about how "happy" you are for your fellow infertile sisters. I feel so much the same. I don't know how I haven't been reading you before this, but I'm adding you to my blogroll now.


  10. I understand the feeling of being left behind twice. After a point, IF pregnancies hurt as much as those of normal women. You can be happy for them, but it's impossible to do so without being unhappy about your own situation.

  11. It's hard, that's a fact. I was angry yesterday at a fertile friend for telling me, "don't give up yet." How about the next time YOU go two years wasting hundreds on pregnancy tests that all say the same damn thing (negative!) then let's rehash this pep talk. "Don't give up??" So now choosing to end the trauma makes me a quitter?? *insert frustrated scream here*. BUT... in the end, I just try to remember that those fertiles really DON'T know what it's like and they DON'T know HOW to be sensitive since they haven't walked in these shoes. I remember feeling completely at a loss when the same friend suffered a miscarriage because I had absolutely no point of reference to console her. I DEFINITELY stuck my foot in my mouth on that one more than once, so maybe we're even.

    You do have a right to be annoyed or frustrated, so maybe the best way to deal with it is to pray for them instead of harboring hostility. Pray that God will give them grace and compassion for situation so many of us are in so they don't unknowingly hurt others.

    As for the sibling situation - I'm in it, too. My bro and his wife pop out kids whenever they feel like it but he never EVER asks about my situation. If I bring it up (and he's my BFF), he listens and then instantly changes the subject. Maybe he gets a hall pass because he's a boy, but it still bugs me. And so I pray... :)

  12. It seems to me that this is the natural thing about IF blogs...many women are going to not be IF as the years go by. Just this spring there have been so many of us become pregnant/adopt that I feel left behind, too. It does seem to be the end of an IF blog when there is suddenly a baby involved.

  13. Enjoyed your post! It's like a good friend telling me how hungry she is and that she hasn't eaten in days. I then respond with saying that I made a massive supper last night - grilled chicken, potatoes, beans, etc. with cheescake for dessert. I then complain about all these tasty leftovers that I have to eat before they expire while NOT offering her any. Hmm, my in-laws are good for this. It's hard watching all of them get pregnant with 10 nieces and nephews month #1. Then make comments to me and my DH on how we should get it over with because 'it's not that bad.' I've only been trying one year, you have many. :( Hopefully you'll be lucky soon, you've really earned it.

  14. I believe that I understand exactly what you are saying. Thank you for your comments on my blog. I am praying for you as well. I hope you are able to find the peace you are seaking.

  15. i sincerely hope that i'm not one of the blog-ees you're talking about. if i am, my deepest apologies. i never want to take anything about my current situation for granted.

    i remember the left-behind and angry feelings. although i know i can't be a source of comfort to you because i've 'crossed over,' my memory of those horrible feelings remain just beneath the surface.

    i do hope it's ok that i keep reading and commenting - if not, please let me know. i just don't want to leave IF'ers in the trenches. i resented it so much when my online IF friends completely forgot about me when they all got their babies and i continued to plod through years of IF.

  16. I'm sorry that I'm late posting, but better late than never!

    I, too, am approaching the 5 year mark and will all of the pg announcements in the bloggosphere I'm having a very difficult time dealing with my IF. It is hard enough that I am surrounded by THE MOST FERTILE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, but now my biggest support group of women are all jumping the hurdle and are leaving me behind. And yes, I struggle with the guilt of feeling jealous and envious.

    I, however, do not have a good poker face. After five years of IF, I can barely hold it together (oh, how I need therapy!). And to quote Sartre again (yes, I do have two degrees in French literature!), "Hell is other people."